Stormwatch Aerials: Santa Cruz Mountains Soaking | NBC Bay Area

Stormwatch Aerials: Santa Cruz Mountains Soaking

Looking outside my window seat back to the Bay Area this weekend gave me a really interesting view of a process that's responsible for some very heavy rain totals in our mountains. A very deep plume of moisture continues aiming in on the coastal mountains like a giant Pacific Ocean firehose. This video will help explain the incredible near 10" rain totals near Ben Lomond and Mt. Umunhum so far and counting. As this moist air slams into the mountain range, this air is forced to rise upward where it cools and condenses rapidly - dropping heavier rain on the west-slope or ocean-facing side of the Santa Cruz mountains. This video was taken on Sunday afternoon as moderate to heavy rain continued falling west of the Highway 17 summit. The cloud cover you see over the mountain tops is part of this process "orographic" or mountain-forced lifting of moist air. The pattern we've been in over the last few days and into the first half of this week will continue to fire in high precipitable water values (1"+) at our coastal mountains - meaning its possible one week rain totals may approach an incredible one to two feet of rain in our mountains and in the Sierra 10 to 12 feet of snow (possibly even more). The risk for mud and rockslides will continue to remain high even as rains ease off later in the week. While we hope damage is minimized from this event, all of this rain and heavy Sierra snow is ongoing good news for our water reserves where our reservoirs continue filling. - Rob Mayeda